Round 1 of our bracket competition for best TV series of the past 50 years is over, and a few things have surprised me, particularly regarding prestige dramas both past and present such as “Twin Peaks,” “Better Call Saul,” “Homicide: Life on the Streets,” “The Americans,” and “Deadwood.”
1. I assumed “Breaking Bad” would trounce “Murphy Brown.” And it did get 65.3 percent of Globe readers’ vote, which isn’t bupkis. Still, I think of “Breaking Bad” as the definition of prestige drama, a series that comes as close to perfection as anything we’ve ever seen. I suppose the multi-cam sitcom “Murphy Brown” is distinguished by its progressive, timely, and humane story lines. Interestingly, voters may be thinking about a show’s social relevance as much as that show’s more formal qualities.
2. Only 13.7 percent voted for “Dallas” against “The Sopranos” — and yet I am something thrown by this. I mean, that there are even two people who chose the cliffhanger-driven, shoulder-pad-filled, mud-wrestling-loving nighttime soap opera over “The Sopranos” is beyond my comprehension. Perhaps there’s some nostalgia afoot? Or maybe some resistance to the vaunted reputation of the landmark HBO drama?
3. The Larry David contingent is strong. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” decisively beat “Better Call Saul” with 57 percent of the vote. And “Seinfeld” whupped “St. Elsewhere” with 82.9 percent.
4. I’m not a massive “Twin Peaks” lover, even while I respect its great importance in the evolution of “quality TV.” But I’m surrounded by “Twin Peaks” enthusiasts who have led me to believe I am in a small minority. So I see the victory of “The Simpsons” over “Twin Peaks” — it got 74.7 percent — as vindicating, somehow. “The Simpsons” isn’t at its best these days, but it has been a stalwart, and highly influential, family comedy.
5. In another loss for “quality TV,” “Downton Abbey,” at 69.7 percent, squashed “Homicide: Life on the Street,” the series based on David Simon’s book. I can’t say I’m surprised; the gritty “Homicide” always struggled to attract viewers during its 1993-1999 run, and, alas, it never starred Maggie Smith. And “Downton,” while not critically revered, certainly triggers fond memories.
6. “Fleabag” versus “Six Feet Under” may have been one of the hardest choices in the first round. I’m a massive “Fleabag” fan, and both seasons of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s masterpiece landed on my year-end best lists. But I went for “Six Feet Under,” which I love as much, because it was longer, more ambitious, more philosophical about life and death, and featured the best finale in all of TV. It was relatively close, but “SFU” won with 61 percent.
7. I learned about the critical bubble I must be in sometimes when I saw the “Black Mirror” results. The anthology series about the near future and high tech is one of my favorite series — the closest TV has come to an updated “Twilight Zone.” I assumed it would give “The Office” — which was good but also at least three seasons too long — some serious competition. Not the case: It attracted only 12 percent of the votes.
8. I loved “The Golden Girls” but I voted for “The Americans.” But now that “The Golden Girls” has won, with 54.4 percent, I’m happy. The power of those actresses — Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty — is magical and is not to be underestimated. I am disappointed, however, that “Maude” didn’t prevail over “Hill Street Blues” (which got 66 percent). Both shows are remarkable, and influential, and groundbreaking, but I basically worship Norman Lear’s affectionate satire of liberals and its amazing leading lady, Bea Arthur.
9. The closest race was between “Deadwood” at 49.7 percent and “The Larry Sanders Show” with 50.3. I expected “Deadwood” to tromp on “Sanders,” which I voted for, so I’m happy Garry Shandling’s extremely sharp satire of TV is still in the running.
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